[0:00:00] John Snell: This is the other side of the Bell episode 36.
Hello and welcome to The Other Side of the Bell. A podcast dedicated to everything trumpet brought to you by Bob Reeves Brass. We’ll help you take your trumpet plane to the next level.
I’m John Snell trumpet specialist here at Bob Reeves Brass and I’ll be your host for this episode.
My special guest today is Jon Lewis studio trumpet player here in Los Angeles and principal trumpet with the Santa Barbara Symphony.
We’ll get to Jon’s interview here in a moment after a word from our sponsor and as always, some trumpet news.
This podcast is proudly brought to you by Bob Reeves. Brass. Bob and his staff have been serving the brass community since 1968. We help brass musicians set up their equipment properly so they can make music as easily and effectively as possible. Let us worry about your equipment so you don’t have to, you can put your focus where it counts on the music here at Bob Reeves Brass. We work closely with you to find a customized solution that works in whatever plain situation you find yourself in our consultations are always free and we work daily with musicians of all calibers. Find us online at Bob Reeves dot com also on Twitter and Facebook under Bob Reeves Brass. So give us a call, send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you.
Well, here we are episode 36 3 years down full of podcasts. And thank you for listening. I have the most passionate trumpet playing community that listens and I love hearing from you, keep the emails and calls coming and without your support, we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t have gotten past episode one or two. So here we are at 36 going strong. So thank you again for listening. We’ll do 36 more, at least.
So I have a few bits of trumpet news today. I probably a little bit more than bits. Uh First of all, the I T G International Trumpet Guild conference is coming up May 31st to June 4th and it’s going to be in our own backyard this year. Practically Anaheim California, right across the street from Disneyland. So I look forward to seeing you there. Bob Reeves Brass will have a booth. I think we have five tables this time in the uh the sound producing booth. Uh the sound producing room which just listen for the racket, all the thousands of trumpet players trying equipment and that’s where we’ll be all week. And this year it’s going to be a very special year not only will we have Bob Reeves trumpet mouthpieces and accessories doing valve alignments. We will have the Van Lar trumpets, a good selection of those. And if we don’t have it Van Lar Hube and Hydran from Van Lar from the Netherlands will be there uh with probably another 30 40 instruments. So an excellent chance to try those instruments out. And Charlie Davis, we are carrying the Charlie Davis line of trumpets and he will be there with his instruments at our booth. So come by and meet Charlie and check out his instruments. And if that wasn’t enough, our good friend, Phil Jordan, trumpet player and artist will be there with his artwork. He will have prints uh some wonderful jazz prints, pencil sketches. Uh some of his original artwork will be at our booth. So it’s kind of like a one stop shop of trumpets mouthpieces and art work. So not only can you play the trumpet, you can have some wonderful trumpet artwork hanging on your walls. So check us out in the sound producing room at the International Trumpet Guild and information for that will be at Bob Reeves dot com forward slash I T G oh.
And next month, uh we will have Chris still as a guest. He’s the second trumpet in the L A. Phil. He will be doing a clinic, I believe in performance at the Trumpet Guild with the L A Phil trumpet section. Uh So you want to tune in next month because he’s got a wonderful interview and we will announce some special podcast only discounts podcast, listener only discounts. So listen next month in uh April’s episode to really take advantage of some deals at the I T G.
Next, I always want to mention our good friend Dr Karl Sievers and the William Adam seminar getting even closer August 4th through seventh in Norman Oklahoma at the University of Oklahoma, come and learn from uh first generation students of Mr William Adam. Information for that seminar can be found at William Adam trumpet dot com.
I’d also like to mention again our good friend Tom Stevens who was on this podcast last year, uh his DVD Thomas Stevens on musicianship, Vacchiano’s Rules and beyond is now for sale now out and available. He was discussing it in his interview and that is available on Amazon. I unfortunately forgot to post the link on the show notes last month. So I’m sorry for those of you that looked for that. So we will post it. Definitely this time. You can search for Thomas Stevens on musicianship on Amazon. It’ll come up or you can go to Bob Reeves dot com forward slash 36 we will have the link to get, get that wonderful DVD. So, my apologies and hopefully you will pick that up this month, one other quick plug and I’ve talked about this, I think it was about a year ago we were hoping to do another podcast that was more, you know, trumpet talk kind of stuff, not just interviews and kind of the biographical podcast that this one is. And I’m happy to announce that we will be doing that. It won’t just be me. Uh thankfully, it will be, uh in fact, my uh my guest interviewer from the Thomas Stevens podcast, Michael Zonin will be joining me, we will be co-hosted together a trumpet talk style thing. So we’ll be talking about buzzing or different techniques or how to choose equipment. Uh Little topics. It’ll be a shorter podcast, not the hour or two hours that this one can get to. And uh hopefully we will have one out every two weeks and that will start sometime in March. We don’t quite have a title yet. We’re working on a few final ones. So I’m not going to announce the title yet. But if you go to Bob Reeves dot com forward slash 36 we will get you to the new podcast because you know, you can’t listen to enough trumpet.
All right. That is all the news for this episode. Let’s get straight to my special guest, Jon Lewis. Well, my special guest today is Jonn Lewis. Jon has got to be one of the busiest studio trumpet players here in L A. He’s been on over 800 movie soundtracks in his career and still, he says he does about 40 more a year he’s been on over 1000 TV shows and cartoons and he also has a very busy live performance schedule playing with the Santa Barbara Symphony where he’s principal trumpet, co, principal a Hollywood Bowl orchestra and a charter member of the L A chamber brass quintet. Jon can be heard on the TV series, Jag Deep Space Nine and the other Star Trek series. He’s been a soloist with the international Trumpet Guild, Long Beach Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, the Pasadena Symphony. And he travels throughout the United States and internationally playing solo concerts and teaching master classes. And most recently, you might have heard him on the Blockbuster Movie Star Wars a force awakens. So I’m very excited to have with me, Jon Lewis.
All right. Well, we are here today with trumpet player, Jon Lewis. Jon, thanks for joining me today.
[0:08:22] Jon Lewis: Thanks for having me
[0:08:23] John Snell: Let’s get right into this. Let’s talk about how you found the trumpet or if the trumpet found you.
[0:08:25] Jon Lewis: Yeah, you know, I’ve been trying to think about that and I think um I think because my dad, the influences that he had Al Hirt and Herb Alpert, believe it or not. When I was growing up, he had a lot of those albums. And um so that was my first exposure to trumpet playing and um somehow when it came time to pick an instrument that’s trumpets, the one that we picked and started in grade school, fourth grade. And um you know, that was, those were kind of my influences very early on and listen to the Tijuana Brass. I used to sit, I don’t think I got to practice much in the house, but I’d sit on the back porch and play Lonely Bull and some Tijuana brass kind of things, you know, and drive my neighbors nuts.
[0:09:08] John Snell: But was there an immediate attraction to the trumpet or something?
[0:09:11] Jon Lewis: I think so. You know, I, I must have, I don’t know if I was good or if I really stunk but, uh, I don’t have negative memories of it. So it must have been pretty positive, but I enjoyed playing, you know, they had fun doing it.
[0:09:24] John Snell: Yeah. Oh, at what point did you get a trumpet teacher?
[0:09:27] Jon Lewis: in, uh, my first year in high school? And they had the, and I grew up in northern Virginia, right outside of Washington DC in Falls Church. And, um, in that time period, the school programs were really, really excellent and elementary schools, the music director, we had a trumpet teacher come in and worked with us and, um, must have done pretty good because I had, you know, solos and stuff in the, in the band. And then in high school, uh I got connected with, uh trumpet, first trumpet in the army band who was Pat Mastroleo an amazing player, amazing guy and started studying with him and spent the rest of my high school years with him and he was great.
[0:10:11] John Snell: Can you talk a little bit about some of the things he would give you?
[0:10:14] Jon Lewis: Um, yeah, you know, the northern Virginia DC area was really, still is excellent because they have all the military bands and Washington are the Pershing’s Own army band. Uh, they were fantastic and I got to know the guys through Pat. And so whether it be the brass quintet or during the summer, they had concerts all over DC at the, um, by the Washington Monument, by the Jefferson Memorial, all those places. And you could go hear live music all the time during the summer. And so, uh, when I started, started studying with Pat, he had me do the Arban’s book, which I hadn’t really done much of. And, uh, you know, played pretty good amount with me and his sound was just incredible. I have to really attribute my concept of sound to him because it was really clear, all the articulations were just like popping bubbles. That’s what I used to think of it. And, uh, and he was really consistent and he was a good troubleshooter, whatever I was doing. He wouldn’t necessarily tell me I was doing it wrong from what I remember anyway, but he would steer me in the direction of doing these exercises to uh target whatever area he thought needed work.
[0:11:32] John Snell: Now, at this point, were you getting more serious with trumpet?
[0:11:37] Jon Lewis: Like I was, I think, uh, there was a time in my life, I, my parents divorced and around sixth grade, fifth or sixth grade and we kind of had some shuttling around with different stuff. My mom remarried and so there were, there were things going on family wise that were, could be considered as a challenge. I, I don’t remember thinking there were challenges just what it was. But when I got into high school, the band program at church, high school at the time was really, really roaring. I mean, they were really one of the best bands in the country. And Jim Stegner, who was the band director, um, was a real task master and had gone to Northwestern and really drove the marching band and, and then offseason symphonic band. So it was like a machine and it was like a family. If, if anyone, most people you’re gonna be listening to this have been in a band and understand the family sense and everything and the sense of commitment and leadership and all those things that get instilled at an early age, I think, early age and I got really into it. I actually stepped back my first year, uh, went to band camp and I had hair, I had hair way down below my shoulders. It didn’t quite fit in with the marching band, you know, knuckleheads with the, because they had to have, at the time you had to have crew cuts and, uh really short, maybe not crew cuts, but really short over the ear, over the eyes and above the collar, all those things. And here comes this kid with hair down to here, you know, and, and, uh, I didn’t make band. I was put in what they called the Reserve band or the nickname was Dip Band. So I was in Dip Band and, uh, and that, you know, things work out the way they’re supposed to. I was there and we had to learn our skills and our patios and, and every week it, Jim would point to somebody and like, play. So, you know, go through your list and if you screwed up, you had to screw up in front of everybody. And I, you know, I got it. I’m like, OK, so I started working and, and by the time the winter concert happened, I got promoted to this top band, a symphonic band and, um, you know, his last year in the symphonic band. But, and then from then on, you know, that working that much, um, drove me to, uh, really get interested in it and I can’t tell you how much I practice each day, but I know I was passionate about it. I, I was in the band room as much as I could be. At the same time, my mom was dying of cancer. So, you know, the music, who knows if it was a release or something, something to connect with because I had that sense of family. And, um, you know, right before she died, we had a winter concert and, you know, I had this big solo to play and, and that was the last time, you know, uh, my mom heard me play. So I kind of felt like we had this connection through that stuff because she, she was a, like a folk singer and guitar player. And so we had connected at that level and, and that was helpful too through the music. And then through the next three years of high school, you know, marching band was like I said, there were state champions and we had a jazz program that just started up. So, you know, I was, I guess, you know, at the time, the hot shot because all the seniors graduated in my sophomore year. So for two years, all of the rest of us got to be the big shots. I played lead in the band and such as it was. And I, and I decided there, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to, what I wanted to do, believe it or not in Falls Church, Virginia was playing in the Tonight Show Band.
[0:15:19] John Snell: Did you get to meet Doc?
[0:15:20] Jon Lewis: I did, he was a huge icon to me around that time. I got introduced to Doc and, um, I mean, I literally wore out the records that, that I had back then and, uh, you know, still amazing, amazing player and um real big influence on me and then, of course, Maynard and Bill Chase at the time. Um All those guys, it was like just immersion in this. Not in what I do today. Ironically.
[0:15:45] John Snell: Yeah. So, but you were into the commercial music, the band stuff and that’s what you want to do. So college comes around,
[0:15:53] Jon Lewis: College comes around. I was gonna either my, my thinking was that I was gonna go to school and come back and be in the army band and in DC. And uh so I went to, I auditioned for North Texas Northwestern and University of Kansas had an old girlfriend that went there and uh made all three of them and K U they were so interested and me um both in the jazz program, I sent them my audition tape, had some pretty crazy things on, you know, some Maynard stuff and, and some um some Bitsch Etude which are ridiculously hard and, um, and then a couple of other, you know, pop solo things I played and I got contacted by the trumpet teacher who was Roger Stoner who liked to talk about him more later. And uh Jim Barnes, who was head of the jazz department and uh Bob Foster who was head of the, the marching band. I mean, they all contacted me and um so I ended up picking them and it was a great choice, you know, went to Lawrence Kansas and went to, I was in the marching band, of course, which was a joke compared to my high school band. I mean, sorry to all the anybody out there from K U listening. But, you know, it was a huge machine. Uh instead of having 15 trumpets, we had 60 trumpets. But the, you know, it was, it was different, you know, we were like diehard cod uh style stuff and this was like, you know, playing Earth Wind and fire medley of big band and, and it was an excellent band, you know, and it, it was a lot of fun, but the football team was never very good, but I practiced during the games and all that. But I, I played in the marching band, I played in the wind ensemble, the symphonic band, the jazz band, the orchestra, I played in a brass Quintet, you know, so I wasn’t a little fish in a big pond. I wasn’t a big fish in a little pond. It was just kind of right in the middle. We had a lot of talent. Uh A lot of guys I still stay in touch with today. But the thing about K U that, um for me, it was really amazing was that they had a real commitment to bring in artists. And um you know, Armando Ghitalla, Carl Reinhart came um Tony Plog who actually was, I’ll get to that. One of the reasons I came out to California, um Gary Foster Woodwind Doubler came out. He is a graduate of K U and, uh, al came out, we had tons of talent come out Dizzy Gillespie and I could probably think of more, but they had a lot of people come out and so you had a lot of exposure to different things. And, um, my, I think it was my sophomore year. I auditioned for the Army band in DC and there was a time where they had affirmative action, you know, where they had to hire minorities. And, um, but they really wanted me and so they sidestepped the fact that they had to hire a minority and they offered the job to me. And I’m like, well, I really got to finish my college. So I turned him down and, um, so the next year, um, Tony Plog came out and did a master class and a recital and I got to spend some time talking to him and, uh, loved what he had to say, you know, about his career in Los Angeles. He talked about this guy Jimmy Stamp teacher and Tom Stevens and Vince DeRosa. And, uh, of course Malcolm McNab and, and Tony was doing some studio stuff, I think a pretty good bit actually. And, uh, a great solo career with Sharon Davis playing piano. And, uh, obviously that’s how I got to meet him. And, and I thought, wow, you know, I, I should go out there and kind of take a lesson with this guy, Jimmy Stamp.
So I scheduled um a trip out and Tony said I had a couple of lessons with Tony. He set up a lesson with Tom Stevens, with Jimmy and with Vince Rosa. And of course I came out, you know, whatever it was March or April of 1980 it was just so gorgeous, just so gorgeous. I thought, oh my God, I wanna live here, you know, just from what it was. And um so I took lessons with these guys and that was really eye opening, Jimmy, um just went right to my soul in terms of his concepts. They were so similar to what I was already doing. But um you know, really made sense of things that kind of were happening, but I couldn’t necessarily tell you how they were happening and his concepts, you’re talking about playing down the middle and, and traveling from center to center and, and staying up on the notes when going down and staying down on the notes, when going up, just put some clarity into things. And um and uh another big plus for taking the lesson with Jimmy, Jimmy had an open door policy. And so if you went, let’s say you had a three o’clock lesson, you could go at one o’clock and you could listen to two hours of other people’s lessons, you could take your hour lesson, then you could hang and listen to others. And there’s this guy that happened to be there the hour before me and his name was Nelson Hat. And I don’t know, did you ever know Nelson? Um, wonderful, wonderful guy. And, um, again, I want to talk about him too more, but Nelson was taking a lesson. So I listened to his lesson. He hung around for my lesson and, uh, I guess he, you know, liked what he’s hearing. I was, I was pretty in, pretty good shape playing wise, you know, I was, I was hitting trumpet probably, I don’t know, eight hours a day with ensembles and practicing. And a so he stayed and I actually gave, gave me a ride back to where I was staying and we chatted and he gave me his card. He said, if you’re ever out here again, give me a call. And uh so I went back to school and I was completely jazzed, you know, and I thought I gotta get done here. I gotta get done because the same thing as I’m sure you experienced it when you’re in school. It’s very difficult to get through a program of four years, especially performance. I was playing in everything. I was blowing off everything else, you know. And um so I came back, I quit marching band. I quit jazz band. I, my senior year I ended up being the, the graduate assistant, um just the way it worked out, I got to play with the faculty brass quintet, which was awesome. And um just, just give me the nuts and bolts and let me get out of here. Yeah. And, um, so my senior year I came back out to Los Angeles for spring break again and, um, took the lessons again with Tony and Jimmy. I think I saw Tom. Yeah, I did see Tom Stevens again and contacted Nelson hat and he took me to a jingle. I didn’t even know what a jingle was. He took me to a jingle for MJB Coffee. I remember, I remember like yesterday MJB Coffee, I went in and, uh, the small, I don’t remember the studio. Uh because I figure I kind of figured maybe there was just one studio that’s the only. But, um, the Hollywood studio, it was a very small room, you know. But, uh at the time Charlie Loper was there, um, Rick Baptist came in, I can’t remember. Maybe Larry Hall was there too. I’m sitting there waiting Nelson with her and this guy walks in and he buzzes his mouthpiece from like pedal C to double C and back down. And I’m just like my jaw just slammed down as Rick Baptist and, uh thought holy crap, I couldn’t believe this. And, uh, so I listened to this, this, um silly M JB coffee commercial and I thought that I just, this is incredible, you know. Uh I also got to go to, it actually might not have been till after I moved out. But Nelson took me to a session and I think it was at um R C A if I’m not mistaken, it was, it was the first Rocky movie and the trumpet. It was like 8, 10 trumpets there. And, you know, it was ridiculous. And um uh I was like, I was so, so excited about it and uh and then when I graduated, I moved out the end of summer, August of 1981.
Another thing that Nelson had did when he first met me, he had done, he was a photographer. You probably know that. And he took a bunch of pictures every job he did. He took pictures. And in the 19, I think it was the 1980 New York press conference journal. He had a pictorial of the West coast scene and uh and it was a whole, I don’t know, maybe a 10 page pictorial talked a little bit about the scene but had pictures of all the guys, all the guys talk about a who’s who and he gave me a copy of this and I still have that copy. It’s, it’s completely fallen apart. I finally scanned it because, you know, I’m looking at these pictures of Aldi and, and you know, Chick Cara playing with them and Charlie Loper and Malcolm McNab and Gary Grant and Chuck Findley and Jerry Hey and all these guys, everybody, all these guys that I was learning um who they were, you know, I grew up in the east coast and anything east of the Mississippi is all east coast, New York and the trumpet. You know, it wasn’t, it wasn’t, um, Bob Malone and Bob Reeves. It was, it was Cliff Blackburn and, uh, and, and Schilke was about as far west as you got. So my eyes were open. I, I found out who the guys were in the Tonight Show Band and, you know, Oscar Brasheer and all these other stars. I’m looking at these pictorials thinking, wow, this is unbelievable trombone, trumpet, tuba, everybody. And I would look at that thing all the time and then I moved out here and through Nelson. Um he, I’d go to the Union and got in a couple of rehearsal bands and got to meet great players and Nelson introduced me as this guys, this great player. You’re gonna be seeing this guy and, you know, gave me good press and uh um introduced me to a lot of guys. He introduced me to Manny Klein who ended up being a pretty good friend. You know, I’d go over and hang out with him and, and Jack Fields. I don’t know if you know who that was, but he was the eye doctor of all the trumpet players.
[0:26:38] John Snell: Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, Bob talks about him.
[0:26:42] Jon Lewis: Field. Um you know, you’d go over to his, his office and uh in Studio City and he’d put drops in your eyes and you play duets and then he’d check your eyes and he put more drops and you play more duets and you’d leave without paying, you know, it was amazing. But he was a really great guy and he was probably mid seventies man. He was in his mid seventies. Uh Another big important person to me at that time was my uncle who lived in Studio City and he was in his mid seventies. All my, all my best friends were in their seventies and uh but they were all great people and uh you know, good to others and all that. I can’t say enough good stuff about that.
But I know it’s a roundabout way to talk about how things got started here. But um the rehearsal bands, uh Tony was really helpful, Tony Plog. He got me to sub in the Valley Symphony where he played principal trumpet. So I started playing in an area community or show. Um And uh that was amazing and your dad actually was really instrumental uh um the California Brass Ensemble, Keith Snell of course, ran that and somehow I don’t know how it happened, but somehow I got affiliated with them and um started playing, you know, I met the trumpets were different sections but Roy Poper, Bill Bing Stan Friedman, Bob Karon came in later, Warren Bartold even. Um I mean, you were running around in diapers, you know, uh it was a long time ago, long time ago and, and um you know, we rehearsed like every Monday on Olive Avenue or whatever it is in Burbank, at the church there. And amazing music, the trombones were like Roy Main and Danny Brook and, and Dave Hilberg and um Ross deRoche on Tuba and Joe Meyer Calvin Smith. All these guys, you know, everybody that for the next 10 or 15 years I was working with, um, it was a great experience, you know, and um I think I was kind of fortunate in that instead of having to get a job at bagging groceries or something, I, I actually got a paper route for the daily news when I first moved out here. Um, and so I never had to do a day gig. I was out at four o’clock in the morning, 365 days a year throwing newspapers. But, um, that was my dues seriously for four years. Four AM, somewhere around there. Yeah, anywhere from one to, you know, and I, I would drive with, with my leg and fold the papers with my hands and throw them out the windows and get out and go out and all the apartments and it was a, you know, and I’d buzz, buzz my, my mouthpiece and all that stuff. The Jimmy stamp stuff. Jeez. Remember one time, I mean, things happened, you know, I’ve, I, I’m buzzing, I was way behind and I buzzing my mouthpiece and I thought, well, ok, I gotta throw this paper and So I’m holding the, holding my mouthpiece in my right hand and through a newspaper and I, I think you could tell what came next. Ting, ting, ting, ting, ting, ting, my mouthpiece went hurling out of the car, you know, destroyed it. But, uh, I did that for four years and, you know, times like Easter and Christmas Eve where I’d, I’d do a midnight mass and then I’d go through newspapers and then I’d go to four services at church and I would literally go home and go to bed and sleep till the next morning at four o’clock in the morning because I just push myself way too far.
But, um, you know, the rehearsal bands introduced me to, um, you know, the, the, the jazz players and I’m sad to say most, a lot of them aren’t around anymore. But, you know, I was like the, one of the kids just like now they’re a bunch of kids down there when I first moved to L A. I felt like I knew everybody now. I feel like I don’t know anybody. You know, it’s kind of interesting how that works because you get the network and you’re, you know, you’re just looking up and, and seeing things. But, uh, Jack Feierrman is still around and he was playing, he was playing it. The, the band was Steve, he for any of the L A people. And, uh, Steve was a Hungarian guy. He still is. I think he’s still around and crazy drummer, man. He was just a really nice guy but a goofball and, and uh so the trumpets when I go, I met Hal Espinoza, uh Buddy Childers would come in, got to know Buddy there. Uh Carmen fan who was still in the union um working there. And like I said, Jack Feierman, I met Roy Wiegand Junior there. I met Bill Armstrong, I met all these guys, you know, would come in and go Tony Terran um and playing these big bands and yeah, I’d never played that kind of big band before. These guys put out more sound than I could ever believe. You know, any of these kids like to get in a little bit.
[0:31:29] John Snell: When did, were you working at all when you were in college? Or was you just consumed with school, consumed with school?
[0:31:36] Jon Lewis: Um The closest I got to working professionally was the, the brass quintet. We did touring and we did uh like master classes and, but no, that was my first work.
[0:31:48] John Snell: When, when you moved out here and you started doing gigs, what is there anything you obviously a sound production, you know, playing in big band? Uh The other things you had to learn on the job that?
[0:32:00] Jon Lewis: I think along the line, you know, um a real core thing. I think that, that I know one of your, one of your questions was, you know, what can you suggest to people? I think always having my eyes open, always listening for good, listening for bad in myself and in others and learning from everybody was really crucial because I got to see some really amazing stuff, um, core things. Like for me, the big band, like I said, I, I’d been in a college band and a high school band, but these guys were putting out. I’m not kidding. Twice as much sound as I was putting out. And I don’t know how they did it. I still don’t know, actually, but I would work so hard, I’d get these terrible headaches and, you know, like I met when Roy Wiegand junior came in, uh Roy is putting out so much sound and so much range. I’m like, how’s he doing that? And, you know, because I always got these headaches, I think because I approach, I’ve always approached a trumpet as a, a legit player and even though I’ve done, you know, different styles and everything I still approaches. So in terms of air speed and volume of air, um it wasn’t happening, like, like it was happening with these guys now. Could they sit down and play a nine o’clock in the morning? Probably not. So, you know, it’s always been kind of keeping a couple of different, um, plates spinning for me. And, um, so it was good for me to see how that worked and to sit next to Buddy Childers or, or any of these guys actually, you know, um, Jack Feierman told me he taught the Watchers how to, how to breathe. And if you’ve ever watched Jack play, it’s an amazing thing. You know, the way his breath capacity is and the way he uses his air even it. I, I don’t know how old he is now. He’s maybe mid to late eighties if I’m not mistaken and he still plays incredibly, you know. Um, so I’m not sure if that answers your question, but,
[0:34:00] John Snell: well, so yeah, I um were you still taking lessons? Did you, you’re still staying with Jimmy Stamp when you moved out here
[0:34:07] Jon Lewis: or I studied with Jimmy for a couple of years. And um I was also, as I said, working with Roy Poper and doing some things with him and Roy asked me in time. So, are you still seeing Jimmy? I said, not so much I can’t afford to and he says you can’t afford not to. So I went back, you know, and uh he was absolutely right. So, um still, I think pretty close before Jimmy passed. Uh I wasn’t studying with him at that time, but he was right, you know, I really had to do it and I had taken lessons with um like Bob Findley and um Bobby Shew. Oh, you know, and, and like I said, any time I worked with people I learned from them, it’s, it’s been really amazing. Um learning from everybody over the years and in terms of how they, how they approach the instrument, the sound that comes out and everything is, I’m kind of tired to take it all in. Uh
[0:35:08] John Snell: So what most of the world knows about Jimmy Stamp is what’s from the book, which is confusing and, you know, and we’ve had Roy Poper in here and Malcolm and different Stamp students and they all have a little different take on it because obviously he didn’t just go through his book when he taught you. Can you talk to a little bit about what your experience was with Jimmy? And, uh, and maybe even related to what’s out there in the book. And, um, some of the con yeah, said, talked about, you know, thinking down as you go up and vice versa. What were some of the other concepts? Um,
[0:35:39] Jon Lewis: you know, I think the thing I recognize I recorded, I didn’t record nearly enough, but I recorded about 10 lessons with Jimmy. And the thing that’s most vivid in my memories that I did absolutely my best playing when I was there because there was a, there was a thing that happened when you were Jimmy because a, he wouldn’t let anything slide if I went to play a note and I was high to the center, if I was on top of the pitch, but we wouldn’t go on and he would, he’d be perfectly happy to spend the whole hour trying to play that note in place. And so he was such an amazing troubleshooter, you know, using bands to recognize these are all things that I use today. Matter of fact, but using the bends to recognize where, where the center of the pitch is the most resonant spot and, and, you know, opening your eyes to recognize when you’re high to the center because you can hear it. I mean, I can hear it. It’s almost like I can see colors. I can hear people sound when they’re high to center. I think it’s coincidentally, I think one of the largest issues in and every trumpet player that I ever worked with and, and, you know, less and wise. Um and it was, I think for me too. So having you target, right? You know, whether he used bends to do that, like instead of doing the three B the dot If it started a couple of times over the center, you’d have to put a like that just that slight bend. So you could find the center and then you could travel from center to center the rest of the uh exercise. And I remember him saying that this is something that the fellows are finding useful and we’ll be putting it in the next book. Never happened. Never did. The book really hasn’t changed other than getting rid of the uh the etudes that were in the back and changing those to, you know, other people’s things that I think are a little farther off the mark than the gorn than a two that they had. But, um, he would hear things when you’re playing and, and have the solutions through mostly the exercises that were in his book. And uh so you’d utilize, I think the way the book ended up was that the exercises that Jimmy generally gave to players, they just organized and, and put in the book, not a lot of explanation as you, as you kind of pointed out. But uh so they’re just notes on the page. And I’ve heard, you know, for 30 years, I’ve heard players play the exercises and, and it’s like they have no idea.
[0:38:20] John Snell: Well, they’re playing the notes on the page on the page. No purpose.
[0:38:24] Jon Lewis: But Jimmy was great about, um, I know with Boyd, he really Boyd teaches the approach that Jimmy worked with him with. And it’s completely different than not completely different. The nuts and bolts of the same, but much different than uh, what we went through there are sometimes we do mouthpiece buzzing and do the scales and, and, you know, it had me going up to high s on a mouthpiece scale wise and other times you’d just know you weren’t needing that and you’d die right in. Um, but it’s never really what I wanted. Like we’d come in, we’d run through some mouthpiece drills, we’d get warmed up and you say, ok, that should be enough. He said, what would you like to work on today. And I said, well, I brought, I brought the Charlier and I wanted to do number two. So he takes my book, turns the page 35 or whatever and said, let’s play this. I’m like, you know, I didn’t play this etude in three years. And I go, ok, you know, and, and then you just, you get into this place and you play, you know, you’re, you’re just focusing down the center and if you weren’t, he’d stop you instantly. Um, and I did, yeah, I listen to him now, there are some really playing that I wish I could have done every day on my own. It took a long time. Um, and a lot of thought to actually capture and internalize the things that Jimmy was talking about. I drive on the freeway like six months after, uh, a certain lesson with him and I just got, ah, that’s what he meant, you know, I, I get it and, uh, and then it never left after that. I don’t think so.
[0:39:56] John Snell: He was big on finding the center of the notes. Um, articulation wise. What did you guys work on?
[0:40:03] Jon Lewis: Um, he had his, uh, exercise where it was important to him that you, you know, you, how do I express this? You know, that there are, there are other ways to call it today. I just call it a continuous airstream. You know, that the, the tone production and the fundamentals were absolutely the, the, the most important thing. And I say today it’s not, it’s not really important what the results are. It’s the process that you’re using the fundamentals and the, the results will get better and better if your fundamentals are better and better. Um, so like the exercise, the up, you know, real accurate time, real crisp attacks, um, instantaneous placement of the notes, you know, when you made your intervals, he said you, you don’t, you don’t make the interval. You, you’re there. When you make, when you go to, from a G to an F above, you play the G and you play up the stem of the next note and you’re there, it’s not a, it’s, it’s like there’s a little toggle switch. So, um, um, you know, he, he would have me play, um, whether it be Charlier, the Vern Reynolds book, the Clarke technical studies. And he was really big on. I, I think he called them setups. I call him setups if I were, if I were um, starting with something, a phrase or something and I would like all of a sudden start out of the center or something. He would have me do a little pattern and, or whatever, you know, a band or something and then he’d say go and then, so I went bop, bop, go ball, you know, and, and then you go, so it’s like putting training wheels on you. Interesting. And then it wasn’t up to me when I was gonna do it, I’m just doing the, the fundamental stuff and when he, he’d know when you’re ready to go and then he’d let you go and you’d play beautifully. Um, and you can’t see it.
[0:42:14] John Snell: So you’re not like your brain’s knowing ahead of time what’s gonna happen.
[0:42:18] Jon Lewis: Exactly. I know for me, one of the big issues I had in high school and it still plagues me because I have an album we did when I was a senior in high school and I missed the last note. My high ups sometimes would come out ease, you know, and it’s on the album. But a big thing for me was like, you’re holding this, this last note of a piece and it was the last note. So you were done. Well. No, you’re never done till you’re done. And often I would like, you know, I’d fall off at the very end because I was finished. And now I teach, you know, I play and I teach that you’re not done till, till the sound stopped. You know, you keep playing through the phrase and, uh, and it really, for me, it really helps, you know, but, but from the beginning to the end, um of a piece, uh I watch hope and Harden Beger do master classes and he talks about the same thing Trump players often disengage what they’re doing. And, uh, and then when it’s, when they’ve got the eighth bar arrest and they reengage and they go, and I think it’s a mistake from the moment you’re going to play to the time you’re done. You should be fully engaged in my opinion. And, uh, and that’s the way I try and do it. So it’s like, you know, even here I’m not even gonna be playing, but I still feel like my core is engaged and, you know, if I had to play I could, um, but it’s not, it’s never a sense of relaxation. It’s you’re on and, and your purpose is to do the best you can. And I think I really got that from Jimmy because if you’re playing a phrase, his ears were amazing. I’d be playing a, a, a Clark study or something and I would have done three of them very well. And the fourth one, I’d start high and he’d play with me. He played, he must have played hours a day, that guy because he played with me all through my lesson beautifully too. And so we’d be playing murder and he just go, bro, and he just stopped and I’d be, you know, and, uh, and at the time I’m thinking, what is he doing? But especially knowing that I can go back and listen every time he stopped, he was completely correct. I just wasn’t able to hear it, you know, I’d, I’d be climbing up on the pitch or, um, in the Reynolds book, there are a lot of interval studies. Uh Like the first two are minor seconds, then the second two are major seconds. Melodic and technical keeps going on with octaves and so forth and so on. These larger intervals. When you, when you’d cut that corner, you know, you start climbing before you started making the, the interval, you just freeze, you know. So, OK, so if you wanna, if you wanna get farther, you’d have to do it right. Um I don’t know how he was with students who never got it. He probably just took their money and they never went past the first bar. But, but I, I really took it to heart and, uh, um, it really impacted me greatly. Uh I’m sorry, one more thing was with Jimmy early on, uh, one of the spring breaks when I was here, there was a kid before me and this kid was like nine years old and he had a beautiful sound. Um, his range, you know, it wasn’t anything spectacular. It wasn’t playing the double CS wasn’t, wasn’t triple tongue, you get 100 and 80 or whatever. It was just a beautiful sound in tune in the center intervals were great and he left and I was like, wow, I’ve never, nobody, I went again, sorry guys, but nobody I was at school with probably including me had that beautiful foundation, you know, the tone and, and sound and, and centering and consistency and he said, yeah, unfortunately he also plays soccer and he got hit in the face with a soccer ball. So he’s only playing maybe 60% of his potential blew me away. I don’t know what ever happened to the kid. He was old. It really struck me. Yeah, it was amazing. And, um, so I figured, you know, if I do this stuff, um, diligently and I really did, um, even today, I mean, I, I’ve modified a lot of stuff, um, every day, whether, whether I’m playing or not, it’s still with me. And if I’m driving, like driving here, I did some mouthpiece buzzing and, um, I, I may go days without playing, but when I do play, it’s, it’s like, right, right from the get go committing to, um, you know, consistent approach to what I think is the, the correct foundational way to play.
[0:46:46] John Snell: So let’s, let’s talk a little bit of you. I mean, there’s days you go. Isn’t that kind of like sacrilegious in the trouble world? Taking a day off?
[0:46:52] Jon Lewis: I guess it’s not that, it’s not even that I’m trying to take a day off because, uh, if I had my way, I’d play every single day, I love playing still, but just, you know, life. Um,
[0:47:03] John Snell: So can you talk a little bit about what your routine is?
[0:47:06] Jon Lewis: Yeah, I, um, I think the core of my playing is most of what I got from Jimmy. You know, of course, the, the three B and the, and the bends and the, the, uh, bending scales and stuff like that. Um, but more than that, the concept of playing in the center of the pitch and, um, and, and playing up the stem of the one note to the other for intervals and really hearing, really hearing the, the sound quality, uh core of sound and everything else because you can hear somebody play a high sea and it can sound like it’s, you know, a dime thick because they’re way at the top edge of it. And it may be perfectly in tune with the Peterson tuner or something. But the slot is so small because it’s not in the center and, and you can also hear somebody. Uh Wayne’s a great example, Wayne’s his GS double CS are, you know, like a phone book wide. Uh There’s so much vibrancy and resonance because he’s right down the center of the, right down the pitch. So what, what’s most important to me because of the demands mostly in the recording is that myself and everybody I’m working with that, we’re able to do everything that we need to do at any time. And, and I think the only way to do that is to know where your physical limits are and, and having a foundational approach and I sure hope this is making sense. But, but for me, um, I’ve, I’ve read, I’ve listened to, I’ve met with, I’ve talked to hundreds of different players with different concepts and similar concepts and advanced concepts, whatever, all different stuff. I can listen to Wayne, I can listen to, uh, Sergey. I can listen to anybody and, and gain some knowledge from them. And what I’ve kind of hit upon for myself is an approach that more than anything else. I need to know that from the first note that I go to play that I’m gonna have, oh, a good enough sound and a good enough articulation. Good day or good day or a bad day. So what my, let’s say my driving routine, it’s a very short lip buzzing. Um because I think it’s really important. I, I got that from a Walter E B method book which nobody probably has ever heard of, but it’s, it’s probably about 100 years old and um it’s been out of, out of print for, since, since I think around 1935. And it’s right up there with Saint Jacob and got, and a and all those guys. But they had a concept that I thought was really cool. Is that before you get a person, a student on an instrument, you, they should learn how to buzz your lips and learn to control their lips. Let’s say the interval of 1/5. It doesn’t really matter when, where, what register, but they should know how to, you know, just, just enough uh to know how to draw their lips together and produce a tone. He talked about putting a piece of rice on your lips and spitting it across the room. So you have to move your air and you want to spit that rice. You know, a little kid wouldn’t have a problem with that. But trumpet players do for some reason. So that’s fundamental. And then after they get to the point that they can do that um because there’s nothing, there’s nothing in the way there’s no mouthpiece to, to assist them, they have to make the uh and they have to produce that tone and they have to figure out how to change it. Um And then you go to the mouthpiece and you have to do the same thing. And, and one of my, one of my important things is that the air has to move through the horn, not just blowing into it. So I have some exercises that, that I use to test, you know, and check and make sure that’s working for me. Um One of them is you play a second line g with the mouthpiece in and then you, you pull the horn away and the way I think the tone should continue and um if you’re moving your air, it doesn’t have to be loud. I mean, this is in softer dynamics too and this rubs against a lot of people, some people say no, no, you’re not actually buzzing when you’re playing. I think you do. So you know, things like that, that if my air is moving, I’m gonna have pretty good response when I’m playing. So, whether it be the lip buzzing first and then going to the mouthpiece and then going to the horn that’s worked pretty well for me and, and that’s the bulk of my routine. So I do the scale exercises and then the, uh, the, the sixth, the da da da 13565313568. That exercise. I do those lip buzz and then with the mouthpiece and then I do the, uh, three B, which is the, the typical Jimmy exercise with the six da da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da da, that whole thing slower than that. Um, and that’s kind of it. And that can take, you know, 30 to 40 minutes in the car and by the time I get there I don’t have to, I don’t have to play, but I, I do because I’m usually there an hour and 15 minutes early. But, um, but that’s, that’s the staples for what I do. And you do that in the car? I do. Or at home. If I’m at home you have the luxury. There are, there are a lot of times where it’s a very l A answer.
[0:52:46] John Snell: Yeah, we get everything done in the car.
[0:52:50] Jon Lewis: Well, you know, even if I’m, even if I’m at home, I really, I’d rather practice with a mute than not because I don’t need to hear me. I don’t want anybody else necessarily hear me. It sounds silly but, um, trumpet, it’s loud, you know. Um And I figure unless I’m really diving in and really hitting some something hard, um, and we can talk about that, uh just going through that process, whether it be 30 minutes or not even, you know, but I’ll still do the mouthpiece and the lip buzzing because I, I think it’s really important. I figure if I can, if I can buzz on my lips, um Let’s see if you can buzz on your lips at, I see. And it’s not, again, it’s not about the results. It’s about the process. If I can keep the same structure on my lips that I would on the mouthpiece and I can train, you know, can have the muscles work. I think it’s a good thing because if I can, if I can buzz a B flat at the top of the staff, there’s a much better chance that I’m gonna be able to articulate it on a mouthpiece and a much better chance I can be able to articulate it on the trumpet. So I bring it all the way back to me before the mouthpiece and um put a lot of uh importance on that. But, you know, and everybody who comes to see me, they get that same thing. So, you know, if they don’t like it then they don’t like it. But I, I think it’s valuable and, and, uh, you know, a lot of people have been benefiting from it.
[0:54:13] John Snell: Now, when you said your routine is 30 40 minutes, it’s what happens if you’re just feeling awful,
[0:54:21] Jon Lewis: you know, believe it or not. Um, I don’t often feel awful and I think it’s mostly because of the things that I do. There’s another component. I, I, I hesitate to bring it up here because it’s kind of a little quirky thing. But, um, Cat Anderson, I don’t know if you notice that, but Cat Anderson used to always play with his teeth closed and, and that’s what he attributed his range to. He, he, when I met him, he told the story of when he was in high school there was, he couldn’t play high at all and there was some kid that was hitting on his girlfriend and he got mad and he, his teeth and the band director, he hit some stratospheric note and the band director. What did you do? And I don’t know. And then, so he did that for the rest of his career. That’s, that’s what he said. And, um, so I started messing with it when I was in college and it’s like, that’s, that’s really a different thing. If you’ve ever tried anything like that, it’s, you know, it’s quirky to close your teeth and play, but I won’t. So I tried to do it and it sounded terrible but I started doing, uh, like long tones and, and I found that, wow, it’s like, it’s as if you’re playing high but you’re not a second line. G, it’s like playing a high C, everything’s really compressed and you have to figure out how to get the air through the aperture. You know, I started using that, that tool, I guess I’ll call it for playing and it’s gotten to the point, you know, I, I do it a lot and uh so when I’m doing the, when I’m doing that lip buzzing in the mouthpiece buzzing, I’ll do a lot of it with my teeth closed. And if you can get that to work, you’re gonna have a great day really? Because then when you go to your, your regular setup open and everything working response is good because you’re, you, you’ve worked at a, a really a microcosm, uh you know, just a really small um portion of things and you’ve gotten that working and if you don’t get it working, you could probably still have a good day. You just know that you’re not gonna be right at your peak. Does that make sense? Yeah. So I have things like that that I do that if I’m buzzing um and things are working, it’s gonna be a really good day and if it’s feeling terrible doing that, it’ll probably still be OK with, with everything else in line.
[0:56:30] John Snell: So let, let’s jump back in terms of your career. Uh I think we left off. You were still doing a paper route at 4 AM. Um So at what point did you, were you actually established enough to, you know, be considered yourself a professional musician?
[0:56:46] Jon Lewis: You know, I thought I had no idea about the recording world. I really didn’t if I had, I, I might have tried to go about things a little differently, but I was really busy. I was playing churches, weddings, brass quintets. I auditioned and won both Long Beach and Santa Barbara Symphony. I was subbing with the Philharmonic, I think uh as early as 1980 two, maybe 83. So just a couple of years there, um I was playing in Bill Hall Master Corral uh was uh an alternate but I, I did play a bunch of the ABT and Joffrey. That’s a lot of stuff, man. You know, for me, for a, for a kid playing and though my income was for me, the income was fine. You know, we gotta remember that apartments costing uh $250 a month. Um It was a different thing making a paper route that was making 100 and 10 a week or 100 and 30 a week. That was, I was killing it. Um But I um there was a school Dick Groves school of music and it was uh is in also in uh Studio City or maybe Sherman Oaks. But, um, it was a school where they would teach orchestration, they teach composition, the jazz big band jingles TV, movie. They teach all this stuff. And then they would have, they would bring in musicians to play the music. And so that was like, probably my first recording experience. It, like in a, a learning situation. And, you know, they had a, they had, this is so high tech, this recording thing. They had like these little Walkmans or, or not even, you know, these terrible, they put it on the podium. That’s how they would get their recordings of the sessions and you’d play and, you know, it had to be right. And people do, people with composer would write things wrong or whatever, we have to correct them and some things were really too difficult and, but I got that experience and that was really cool. And then there were other classes or workshops that I got to do. And, um, so as far as the recording kind of came in, I had all that live stuff going on and, and then, you know, slowly but surely a couple of, uh, contractors started using me for, you know, off things, um, did a couple of, I’m sure they were nonunion. You know, I think everybody does some, it’s just a matter of how long you do. But I had some experience on that.
And, uh, and around 1990 was when, um, Patty first started calling me, uh, for some live things and, and then tried me out on, you know, a, a session and, and this is really important. I think everybody should know, or at least the way it used to be. I think it still is the means to break in. There are certain echelons first, you have to be able to really play. You know, I think, I think it’s really important that a player that wants to come into a town that they want to work in that they, they present themselves really at the best that they can be, you know, not come in, kind of, not so great because that’s what people are gonna remember. You, everybody’s gonna remember you for the first, uh, their first uh idea that they, they drew from your playing. So if you’re playing really well, then hopefully you can get to know the players after the players like you, they’ll talk like Nelson did, you know, and they’ll talk you up to other players or if they get hung up and they’re down nine people down on their list. Well, how about, ok, how about this guy Jon Lewis? Ok. I’ll call him. I can do it. So, and then hopefully you do a good job and then, so you get to know the players and through the players, the next echelon would be, hopefully you get to know the contractors and you get on the contractors list and then after the contractors, hopefully the leaders, you know, or the composers are leaders. And I think that’s the, that’s the chronology that you have to attack, you’re playing first and then, um, most importantly, be a good person, you know, be a nice person and, uh, play your instrument. Well, be a nice guy and, uh, and be absolutely at your best whenever you get called. And that’s, that’s how it worked for me.
So I, um, Patty started using me for some things and, but pretty quickly, you know, the, the section when I first started working for Patty was uh Malcolm Rick Baptist and myself and, you know, kind of call the three musketeers because we, you know, I think we could cover pretty much everything that was needed to cover with everybody’s experience. And at the same time, um I had met, there’s a contractor still around John Rosenberg and John was really good to me. Um He used me on some Disney theme park kind of things and little things here and there. And he called me one time uh to this little thing for this composer friend of his and, and it was in his garage and it was just for some, he was doing a medical TV show that had a terrible main title. So, um he wanted to record his new title at his own expense. So I went down there and met this guy and the guy’s name was Dennis McCarthy. And so I went in and this picolo trumpet thing, it was, you know, it was, it was a neat piece and um I think it went really well, so said goodbye, went on. And a few months later I got this call from Carl Fortina, who was the contractor at Paramount at the time for this call for Dennis McCarthy for this TV show Deep Space Nine. And um so I went in and it was um um Bob O’donnell, Bob Findley and myself playing third. It’s great. It’s amazing. You know. So we’re going along and I, I’ve told this story before to, to different places, but we’re going along and I’m like, well, that really sounds familiar, you know that. And uh during the break, I went to Dennis, I said, you know, I can’t help recognize that. And he started laughing. He said, remember that, that thing you did for me for that medical show. Yeah, they hated it. So I took it down a step and it became the theme to the space nine and he ended up getting a Grammy for it. So, there you go. This medical program didn’t think is any good. And so, so I’m doing, I’m playing third trumpet there and somewhere in the session I look at my book and there’s, there’s a solo written in the third book. And I thought, well, that’s weird. And um Bob and Bob were great about it and, you know, some real crazy. I think it would be. The only description is coming in on a high b flat intervals of like 1/7 and melodic things. The strings are just holding this pad and you’re like, you know, uh I was scared to death, but it went well. And anyway, so that, that in time by the next season, um they made a little change and I was, I was playing for Dennis playing first because he kind of went a little bit different direction. Those guys were great, but Dennis was going in a little bit different direction. So we just rearranged the section and, and all of a sudden, you know, I had this opportunity to do the great shows week in week out with, you know, Deep Space Nine. Uh next generation was still going on and then later on Star Trek Voyager came out and, you know, so that was huge for really launching the career of people like, wow, who is this guy? I’m thinking I’ve been here for,
[1:04:28] John Snell: yeah, I was gonna say he moved to L A in 80 81 started doing studio stuff. 10 years later, a little
[1:04:35] Jon Lewis: bit more. Yeah. 10 years, 91 was when I really started getting busy. I mean, 91.
[1:04:39] John Snell: Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, that’s kind of an oddity now.
[1:04:47] Jon Lewis: So for those Star Trek shows, it would record music for every episode, ever episode we’d have, I mean, I’d have as many as three TV shows a week and at the same time at that period of time, Warner Brothers was, I mean, every, every studio had a lot of shows still, but maybe not as much at that point. But Warner Brothers was doing, you know, the pinky in the brain, they doing Animaniacs, they had all those cartoons going on and, uh, you know, so a lot of guys were doing that and of course, Fox had, um, I guess the Simpsons and, and they’re still going with family guy and all those things. But, and then, uh, JAG came out and I had started, I had been working for Bruce Broughton and, uh, and then Jack started at Paramount and I, you know, I was fortunate enough to get it right in the beginning of that and we did 11 seasons, you know, so and again, you know, having that opportunity to be in the driver’s seat, have stuff written for you. It was really exceptional.
[1:05:41] John Snell: So your TV work eventually turned into doing movie scores or were you doing movie scores around the same at the same time as the TV? Work. How did that work out?
[1:05:52] Jon Lewis: It worked out pretty, um, pretty seamlessly where, you know, I had started to do some work motion picture work with uh Patty Zit and Leslie Morris and some with Sandy deCrescent. And around that same time was when the TV stuff started. So that, that just kind of um, put some exposure. So more people heard me and like, wow, who is this guy? And then word of mouth, whatever it got around and started working more and more and in the motion picture work and within a couple of years was pretty solid in that and it worked out well because the TV, what TV I was doing was pretty much the TV, that was going on at the time with the Star Treks and the Jag other than the cartoon stuff and, and that kind of started to, uh, to slow down and the Star Trek stopped and 10 years of jag was great, but nice segue into being full time with the, uh, the motion picture stuff.
[1:06:49] John Snell: So now the logistics of movie work. Right. I mean, if you’re doing a TV show it’s 30 minutes or 60 minutes. I mean, how much music would you actually be doing on a TV show of actual recording?
[1:07:00] Jon Lewis: Oh, probably not more than, like, 15 minutes per episode because they, they could only record, I think five minutes of music per hour and most of the sessions were three hour but there were more of them because we’d have like, three or four shows going a week. So you’d have pretty much a guarantee of four sessions a week. And, uh, and that was great. You know, a lot of people, that’s what they did. Um, but the movies, unless I was playing first on, on, um, like Jag because there’s a lot of solo stuff in deep space. Nine, a lot of solo stuff. I would usually go with the motion picture if there was a conflict in calls and that, at that time there were more conflicts but the motion pictures were more of a priority because of, uh, residuals and so forth. But
[1:07:44] John Snell: So for a movie though, we’re, we’re talking how, how much music for a typical movie?
[1:07:48] Jon Lewis: Well, I think, um, well, I don’t know actual numbers but, you know, in the old days when I first started doing it, we’d have like Water World, we’d have 12, 14 days of doubles, meaning 2-3 hour sessions a day. So that’s a lot of recording now with technology different and with them scheduling it different, you may do three days. So however many minutes there are in the movie, it’s how many days of recording you get. So, for a big budget thing now, like Star Wars, um, spanned an entire year actually. And, but we did periodic sessions and we probably did, I mean, we did 14 sessions. It’s a lot of sessions. Um, but on a, some like low budget things we’ll do one day, we’ll get all the music done in one day and there’s not a limit on motion picture, how many minutes you can do per hour. So if you can crank out 40 minutes of music in one day, it’s great. But, uh, times have changed in terms of how many sessions, there are less numbers of sessions per, per movie. But, um, you just crank through if you’re on a roll, you just kind of keep cranking TV is just TV, is a little bit different than that TV. We would, um, we’d rehearse with the red light on and sometimes that’d be great. You write it right. You read it right. You next and you’d crank through a three hour session and sometimes two hours, you know, a motion picture, they take their time a little bit more and polish more and make sure everything’s just right. And so they take a little bit more time now in the sessions these days.
[1:09:17] John Snell: Do you still have the full orchestra there or do they start splitting it up? So the brass come in one day or the strings come in one day?
[1:09:24] Jon Lewis: Yeah, they call that striping and that’s what um a lot of productions do. I don’t think very many of the musicians actually enjoy it as much because you’re not part of the total unit if the strings do something. Um It’s usually the strings, maybe the woodwinds with them and then the brass come in another session and then the percussion come in another. And I, I personally prefer it all together because then you’re part of the whole experience and it’s all gelled. There’s something strange about having a picture where there are 12 trombones and eight horns and four trumpets. And when you go to the picture and you hear a harp over top of that. You know, it’s like that’s not, that’s not reality, in my, my opinion. I like to hear it all when they do the, the striping a couple of things happen. Um, you know, you lose the ability to have one cohesive interpretation of it and to hear if there are phrases that are being played by the woodwinds and then the brass are playing right afterwards and you’re listening in a tiny headphone, you’re not gonna get the nuance of it. You’re not gonna get the scope of how it fits in with the room. So ideally, we all like to play in one group but today with technology and they say they want more control. Um you know, they have a tendency to separate them, but to certain composers, John Williams rarely does anything separate or if ever we might have done a couple of things that had, you know, they wanted real nuance for like an obo solo or something. But um horner used to do all his at one time. Uh Alan Silvestri for the most part, does it together. You know, a lot of composers do Hans Zimmer kind of have uh set the seed in there for people to want more control and um we’ll see what happens with, I think Star Wars is gonna make um I, I think a change in the way things are done just like it did when it came out in 77. And uh and that’s really exciting, I think because in 77 before it came out, motion picture scores had been going through a change, you know, you had not that it was bad, but like Vandella did chariots of fire and, and there were, it was just a really small scope of the way music was put into the pictures. And when John came up with this 100 100 plus piece orchestra and everybody just went nuts with it. And then he had Superman, he had ET and, and all those other ones that John did Jaws and close encounters, all those things. It, it changed the game and that really was a time where he kind of put a real great shot in the arm for the motion picture industry and it’s lasted this long. So it might be another shot in the arm to kind of go back to a little bit of, hey, why don’t you write really carefully and, and work? And when we play it, it’ll turn out the same way. I think it’s unworkable when you, when you write for 40 brass and then it’s, you know, like the audience is gonna believe that it, it actually mixed, you know, sounded that way live. You can’t do that live. It never sound right. 40 brass up there, everybody like, oh stop, I was back there. It just wouldn’t work.
[1:12:30] John Snell: Uh So in doing movie work I mean, you’ve done 800 movies so far around there,
[1:12:35] Jon Lewis: maybe give or take a few.
[1:12:36] John Snell: Yeah. Uh what are some of the highlights? I mean, working with the composers or, I mean, omposers are they really make the deal?
[1:12:42] Jon Lewis: c And, uh, and you know, there are a lot of factors. I love being there. I love being on the edge of your seat because you, you’re really, everybody has to be at the top of their game. The first read through is as good as the last take uh typically. And um something about Los Angeles is really magical, but let’s talk about Star Wars just particularly because that’s what we just had go a whole year of experience and, and everybody’s been going nuts over the, the way it turned out uh internationally, I mean, a billion dollars plus it’s amazing. But every day, unlike, unlike Big Blockbusters where you have like uh eight solid days of recording because it spanned, we do a day and then three days later we do one and then a couple of days later, we have another one that would be off for three weeks, you know, so it wasn’t like one big stream of, of dates, of pictures of recording and, but every time you came in, it was like immersion in this amazing. Um He’s a genius. I mean, he’s really an American icon and the music he wrote was perfect and it was iconic to us first time we played that stuff or recorded that stuff in Los Angeles and I mean, that was just the bomb. Uh We didn’t do the main titles till like the last few sessions and we’re like, come on, come on, come on. Where is it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen when it finally happened. It was just amazing to play that iconic theme. Um So, you know, the hang with the other musicians, I’m sure I, I may have said it earlier, but, you know, studio recording being characterized as 90% boredom and 10% pure terror. And I know from listening to your podcast that almost everybody says that it’s so true though. But, you know, you sit there, we were working the other day on a picture and uh we really had very little to do, but then all of a sudden we had a lot to do. So you’re sitting there for two hours and then you have this crazy stuff you have to play and what do you do is pick up and go, you know, you have to be ready and able to, you know, 0 to 60 instantly whenever you need to be there. And that’s part of the, the excitement of it for me and reading it right the first time, balance and pitch and ensemble and everything. It’s just uh it’s really an amazing field to be in
[1:15:06] John Snell: now that like for Star Wars, for instance, was it basically the same orchestra throughout the year. Did you guys get to the trumpet section?
[1:15:13] Jon Lewis: We are the four of us for the, in the entire thing, the horns had some variations. Um Principal horns were Andrew Bain and Dave Iverson Andrew’s principal in L A and Dave is principal in Detroit. And uh and there were probably um I don’t know, maybe 10 horns throughout the, the duration of the picture, but mainstay, the principals were, I think there for almost all the sessions. Yeah, pretty. It’s 100 and I think 100 and four people in New York show, it’s a big band.
[1:15:47] John Snell: So, I mean, here you are debuting basically music from the top composers of our day. I mean, what, uh you only have so long to learn the music obviously and get it on tape. But what do you do interpretation wise when you see something from John Williams or James Horner?
[1:16:04] Jon Lewis: Um, you know, I think I approach it in a way that says I’m very pedantic. I just read exactly what they say has an accent. I, I hit it and play it long and, you know, note values. Stop right where they stop, start, play exactly what they have dynamically interpretation. The more information they put, I mean, you can get crazy with it with information but we play what’s written and if they want something a little different, they’ll tell us and we’ve done things where we’ve done it four times and each time is completely different character and you have to be able to do that more vibrato, less vibrato straight. You know, Mariachi style or I know people get offended by that word but it, it is a style, um, you know, you have to be able to, you have to be able to interpret and then reinterpret when they want something different. But I think we read exactly what they write. If they write a wrong note, I’m gonna play a wrong note and you play it.
[1:16:57] John Snell: Uh, how much, uh, what’s warning do you get if you have really difficult passages? Is it sometimes like they pass out a queue and then boom, you go or,
[1:17:06] Jon Lewis: well, when we get there in the morning, there’s a stack and the first thing we do is go through and see, you know, whoa, or I always put the tacets on the side. So I know exactly where they are. So I can see how many actual playing things we have. And, um, so you can look through and, you know, you at your own discretion, um, you can look and, and pattern out things that are really challenging, like Jon stuff, you know, you get five pages and, um, sometimes we get them in advance. That seems to be something that’s changing. Now, if the music prep is done early enough, they post it online, you can look over the stuff that’s really helpful. But over the years, it hasn’t always been like that. We did, um, the Matrix movies with Don Davis and, um, that was, that was one that I think, you know, I, I like the way I approach playing, I don’t ever want to be pushed beyond 70% a 70% bar line of my abilities, whether it be range endurance technical requirements, um, or anything, you know, all of those components. So on my own, I have to make sure that I’m ready for a lot more than we’re ever gonna do. But every once in a while you get stretched to the limit, like with the, with the matrix stuff, there was a scene where uh Neo was fighting Mr Smith in a courtyard and there was like a tons of Mr Smith and I think they call it the brawl or the fight or something on there. And when we got in there were five of us and uh the part was it, the part was like something that went like they had all the stuff and really offset things and that’s all good. That’s all well and good. However, the five parts were all offset from each other, an eighth note. So if I was going, the next person going and then the next person was a beat later. So what you heard was everything was like a uh a delay and when we first started, we didn’t know that we first started and you could just see the attention go from like a, a bull’s eye three ft wide to something you could drive a needle through everybody’s attention and it was so fast and there were part of the phrases would start on the beat, they’d start off the 16th and, or off the eighth note or eight or 16th. So, and it was going so fast that, you know, if you didn’t have your, your game on, technically you were screwed because if you’re trying to plan out, well, I’m gonna go to, you do it sometimes I was articulating things. I never knew I could articulate or starting with, you know, and, and you listen to it and it’s incredible the way it turned out and we had to do it many times and, and, uh, you know, it’s like six pages that and then when we’re resting, the traumas and the horns are over there and it just sounds like a chicken fight. And uh it was amazing. That was like the most, one of the most edge of the seat times that we’ve had. And then there are other times like when we did Independence Day a long time ago with um David Arnold, there are three trumpets and the um end credits we did for, I think through over three hours. And if you saw the movie, it’s like, you know, we were all on Pickles, kids, kept going, kept going and going and going. We did that for three hours over and over and over and uh you know, you wouldn’t know that listening to it, you just hear it once through, but we just kept doing it and kept doing it. And then after the three hours, the next queue I remember like it was yesterday Malcolm had this solo. Yeah. This delicate, completely exposed solo after just mashing your face for 3.5 hours. And that’s the kind of thing. It’s like, oh, well, what do you do now? Well, like we’ve talked about, you get, gotta get your foundation, your fundamentals, your tone production, like, get into this, uh, zone where you can pull back. And that’s one of the exciting things, uh, for me about the industry and I think those are the, the people that are able to do that are the ones that can succeed because there are, there are thousands of great players but people that can do it consistently day in and day out, uh, any style, any time, however it works, you know, over and over and over because you don’t want to be at a place where it’s like this really hard thing and you, you’re gonna go for it, you’re gonna go for the fence, ah, and you play it, play it beautifully. Wow, glad that’s done. Ok, let’s do another one. And, and that happens too. So, but it’s been, you know, a lot of years, uh, seeing the same faces, the people you can trust and, uh, the people you learn to work with and it’s, you know, it’s a family and, you know, we see, we see changes where, um people have been in for generations are not doing as much and then they retire or they pass away and, and the orchestra we work with today is a lot different than it was when I started recording in 91. Um, and it’s sad but, you know, still great orchestras. Just a lot of people have passed on and, and, uh, and changes have been made. But, you know, I think every day I just have to keep in my mind that if I’m there, it means somebody else isn’t there. And when I’m not there, it will mean somebody else is there for me. So it’s just an ever, ever changing. Uh It’s a beautiful industry though.
[1:22:36] John Snell: Where do you think it’s headed? You said Star Wars was, might bring some changes.
[1:22:41] Jon Lewis: Um I’d like to think it’s headed in a direction that um Los Angeles is return to kind of the, I don’t know, I, you know what we do a lot of work in Los Angeles less than used to be done there, less people are working. Um The industry likes to go where they can pay less money and a lot of places are great. A lot of places aren’t so great, but they’re a lot less expensive. And uh no matter where you are, there’s somebody who’s gonna do it for less money. So I’d like to think that, uh, I really think that the product with Star Wars was pretty tremendous and I’d like to think that somebody’s gonna hear, hear something and say, wow, let’s do it there. And so I’d like to see that and, um, you know, believe it or not, the video game industry completely dwarfs the motion picture industry, like, I think by like 8 to 1 and we don’t have any A F M uh union contracts for video games and we need them because we don’t do any of them in Los Angeles. So in terms of keeping the people in the, in the top of their game and keep their butts and chairs, uh we need contracts that will get more work here. And I’m, I’m hoping that that will change too and people get excited about the prospect of doing stuff here and more again.
[1:23:58] John Snell: Uh, can you talk a little bit about what it takes, um, playing studio music because you don’t know what you’re gonna play when you show up that day? Right. So what, what does it take mentally and, and chop wise, you know, I mean, physically to, to get through the day to, I mean, and every day is gonna be different.
[1:24:19] Jon Lewis: Right. Well, you know, the expression, you probably heard it by every trumpet player in Los Angeles you’ve ever interviewed. But, um, studio music can be characterized as 90% pure boredom and 10% pure terror. And, uh, we live that all the time. You know, you could, I’ve done things where we haven’t played a note in two hours and then, you know, 40 minutes into the, the hour they pull out this bombastic thing and, and you’re not gonna warm up. You just gotta pick up and go. So, um, go back to what I said before about, you know, having your fundamentals in place and, um, you really have to be in tune with your body. I, I call it a relationship with my playing. I have an actual relationship with my trumpet playing and that, you know, I, I, I try to be fair to my playing and the results are that it, it generally is pretty fair to me too, you know, but you will pay for it if you have to come in and start playing, pounding out high Ds after not doing anything for two hours. Um You have to be able to again engage your body right away and know how to make the tone production work for whatever you have to do and no apologies. You just have to do it because whether it’s one, if you’re doing, you know, John Williams is you’ll do 10, 12 15 takes of something hard or not. And so you don’t know if they’re gonna use the first take or the last take. Everybody else might be perfect on the one queue that you had a real bad clam. So you don’t want any clams, you know, so it’s really a matter of focus and, and getting yourself, you know, as players, we know how much we can trust ourselves. I think we should know how much we can trust ourselves. And I think you really have to trust yourself because you’re not gonna be able to come in on a high sea like beginning of Star Wars and then be able to come in on that. If you don’t trust it, you’re gonna hit it right. Otherwise it’s just you cringe and, and aim for it and wish it well. But, um, so you have to have a confidence, I have to have the confidence I have to have the homework done so that, um, you’re pretty confident in the way you’re doing it. And, um, and that the results should follow and the other thing is not to get too flustered. Everybody makes mistakes, you know, but I’ve seen people that everything’s all great until they make a mistake and then they kind of come unraveled. It’s like, you know, you’ve hit this note 450 times out of 452 times, you know, it’s gonna be ok. Uh, and, uh, so, but that is definitely something that talk about separating things. You know, the, I think the successful people in the recording industry are the ones that have the ability to consistently do it whenever they need to do it as many times as they need to do it. You know, because if you’re that guy that you go completely for the fence, you blow your wad. Uh, and then they got to do another one. You’re like, oh, you know, you have to have the reserve, you have to be able to regroup and do it again and again and again and again and again, and then maybe 10 more
[1:27:31] John Snell: with John Williams
[1:27:32] Jon Lewis: and maybe 10 more, you know, just uh I, I assuming we’re gonna talk about it. But the, the Star Wars thing, few people have seen it. A few people. Yeah, it just made a couple of bucks um from, just from the start of that. I, I just have to say that that was, that was the highlight of my career. And I think a lot of us have said that, you know, six movies done elsewhere and such an iconic thing for me. I graduated high school when Star Wars came out in 77. So it was a big deal for me and uh and recognizing the amazing music and what is done for the industry, you know, uh at that time, you know, Ben Jealous was doing films and it was really, had moved pretty far away from orchestral scoring and talk about revitalizing an industry and, and changing the direction for 30 plus years. Um It was really iconic and when you know, to have that opportunity especially to, to be able to be kind of, I guess in the driver seat, uh, was amazing that being said, um, the process of doing any movie is usually it used to be more, but let’s say three or four days, maybe five big pictures more than that. Um, we started Star Wars on November 15th of 2014 and we finished November 14th of 2015. It was a 365 day process. So you would go a day, you’d be off a couple of days. You do another day, you’d be off for three weeks. I mean, it, it really went really uh a different pattern than, than I’ve experienced before. But there were a lot of cool things about that that, you know, it’s, you got to grow with this thing over the year and, and it was always amazing music, John’s just tremendous. I had a great section, the orchestra played better than any recording orchestra I’ve ever played with. And uh and I had a really, really fun time. Um but uh it wasn’t until like the last few sessions that we even got to the main title we kept like, are we gonna do? No, not yet. And so yeah, so we, we got there one day and um and we did the finale, the end credits and it was whatever that was 66 or seven minutes or something. And so we ran through that and, and then um from the Philharmonic was a guest as you saw or heard or whatever. But duel came up and he conducted the, the whole finale portion and we did that finale portion for 40 minutes over and over. And it was hard, man. It was really, I thought it was really hard, you know, uh at the end, you know, five pages. You have all those, you know, high seas ab we did it many, many times. We did it for 40 minutes and we’re all like, wow, that’s really tiring, you know, let’s do it again. Oh, and then, then we’re like, ok, we got it. Ok. Bring out the opening, the main titles. I’m like, don’t you want, don’t you want to take a 10, no, 10 went right into the main titles. You did that for 25 minutes, you know. So we did, we played really, really, really, really hard for 65 minutes straight. And um, I don’t, I can’t even tell you how many takes they did, but jeez, there’s a lot of takes and, you know, I got to hand it to everybody. This, my section was myself, Barry Perkins, Dan Rosenboom and Dave Washburn. And these guys are just amazing and, you know, from, from the beginning to end, they were right there, everything was really fantastic. And so we did that and we took the break and we’re like, why did we do that? And then the next session we came back and they did the same thing again. I’m not kidding. We did. Maybe it wasn’t 40 and 20 but it was an hour of those two things without a break in between. It’s like every time we never got to do the main title, Clean And Fresh, it was always after killing ourselves for a while. So, but it was,
[1:31:46] John Snell: uh, and after a year of recording on and off recording, yeah,
[1:31:50] Jon Lewis: the last two hours is, so that was really, it was really exciting. But, you know, John brings a, a level to the playing field, brings the level of playing to such a high caliber, you know, when he gets up there and talks, everybody’s just like who listening. Um And I mean, the playing was just astounding, you know, it was a lot of hours of sitting in a room with complete amazement over everybody. The horns were just ridiculously great. Um The whole orchestra played so well. So it was a real treat and,
[1:32:24] John Snell: and I think it was a big thing for L A too because I have to hope so. Yeah, I mean, it seems like, you know, studio work and especially the big movies. The trend has always been to kind of go elsewhere so to have something iconic like that,
[1:32:38] Jon Lewis: you know, things have changed a lot in the business. Um you know, back in the day we do maybe 35 or I would do about 35 maybe as many as 40 titles. A year movies, movies is besides the TV and just titles and movies and, you know, like with Water World, I think we had maybe 15 days and, you know, some of the bigger, like Independence Day, I can’t even tell you how many days we had. Um, a lot of days, you know, there were a lot more days that was before pro tools. It’s when you’re rolling back and you’re, you know, it takes a lot of time now. It’s just boom, boom, boom. And now they’re doing things differently with striping, meaning that they do the strings, one session, then the brass another and perk another and so forth. Uh So the, the way of doing things has changed, uh quite a bit. But uh there’s still, you know, you know, I brought, you know, I was just trying to figure out you’ve got, no, I didn’t know it’s not not, it’s just I was trying to figure out I did 36 pictures last year and they’re not small ones, you know, X Men inside out minions, the Walk, Tomorrow Land, um pixels Bridge of Spies, Jurassic world, Tron Star Wars, Goosebumps. These are not small movies, you know. So, uh there’s a lot of work that’s left town, but there’s a lot of work that’s still here. And unfortunately, there’s not the depth of work. We don’t have four projects going on at once, you know, a lot less T V, a lot less. I think number of movies being done. Um, and so that when you hear the grumbling, um, that the elite are doing all the work. Well, that might, that might be true because there’s not enough width of work, there aren’t so many projects going on. And I think that’s, um, we need to work with the, uh, with the employers, you know, our, our musicians union. I could, I could go off on them here that I don’t think they’re necessarily doing the work they should be doing. And, and somebody has a problem with me saying that they can contact me directly. We don’t have video game contracts. We don’t have trailer music contracts. We don’t have library music contracts. We don’t have any of those things. Um And the video game industry dwarfs the motion picture industry, just dwarfs it. And uh, but we’re, what we need to get is butts and chairs. We need more people working. Uh We’ve had, you know, drastic paramount’s gone. They scrubbed it to the ground, the studio, which was my home studio with, with all the jag and the Deep, deep Space and Star Trek series Taio got converted to offices for entertainment or I think it was entertainment tonight or something. And, um, you know, so we have stages but not as many. And I hear London, I guess air is closed right now because of construction going on around it. So these are different times. But, you know, we need a business model of getting people to want to stay here. And I agree. I think I’m hoping the Star Wars because it really sounded good. I hope that I can influence more, more and more people to say, hey, I want to be over
[1:35:46] John Snell: here and you need to, you need to see it in IMAX. I have my little plugs for my first time I saw it was in a movie theater and I thought it sounded great and then I saw it in IMAX and it’s like the horn sitting over here and the trumpets were over here and
[1:35:57] Jon Lewis: was, it was amazing. And yeah, and I, I, every time I’d reach up, I would try to grab one of those, uh those ships because it was like right in front of my nose.
[1:36:08] John Snell: Uh I mean, one of the things that really intrigues me about your playing, I mean, you’ve done a ton of studio work but you also do just as much live playing, which is, I think, somewhat unusual. Uh So, yeah, you’ve been done the Santa Barbara Symphony for 20 something years,
[1:36:25] Jon Lewis: I think it’s my 28th year.
[1:36:27] John Snell: And, uh, I mean, how do you, how do you find the balance? And I mean, do you take a similar approach in your playing when you have one shot in front of? Well, I guess you have one shot in the studio too. But
[1:36:37] Jon Lewis: yeah, you one shot, that’s a really good question. I, I think, um, historically, a lot of, um, the recording rats, you know, that’s, they stay in the studio. But, you know, you look at like Jim Thatcher, he’s played in Pasadena for years and there are a lot of people to do a lot of the, the principles for the John Williams stuff. Several of them were down in Pacific, several of them were in Long Beach and several of them, several of them are up in Santa Barbara. And so there are a lot of life, maybe there, maybe it’s out of necessity. I think it’s out of love for it. You know, a lot of people in chamber orchestra do recording. Uh it is definitely different, you know. Um I think with all genres, I, I still play actually in a big band, Bruce Laughren band. I played lead in there for a long time. I’ve been in the band for over 30 years and it’s kind of like a Jekyll and Hyde existence where I get to enjoy something that people don’t know necessarily that I do, but it brings something to the table in the recording world too. Um But Santa Barbara for me, that’s, that’s pretty much family. I’ve been there so long and the personality is out there and management’s great. Um They show respect to the players and they’ve been great with me and uh I’ll be doing um the Hummel concerto with them in March. I think it’s uh 2nd, 2nd weekend in March. So I’m looking forward to that, but they do good literature and they’re, it’s a, it is a different realm of playing. You know, you do get one shot, at least in recording. If somebody scratches a peg on the ground, you’re gonna get another shot. And if something does miss, um, you’ve probably done enough of it that they’re going to go back and be able to fix it. But it is a one shot deal with the live live playing and, and I’ve always loved that. I think my, my favorite kind of playing has always been um ballet, principal trumpet and a ballet. It’s, it’s incredible. I reckon it with um big band, lead playing but is in an orchestra because you are the voice in my, my experience, in my opinion, you’re the voice and uh you know, playing, getting to play Romeo and Juliet Ballet eight times in a season is really uh an amazing treat. So I never want to let that stuff go. And I, I do a very little bit of recital playing. Um And, you know, after a while you just don’t get called for church gigs. I don’t often get called, but I, I do enjoy them when I do. And um you know, all of it’s tied the same place in that you have to know your instrument and you have to be consistent and proficient in, in what you do. So
[1:39:19] John Snell: when, when you’re playing live, would do you maybe give it a little bit more knowing that that’s the one time you’re playing through it as opposed to like, if you’re in a studio session where you don’t know if you’re gonna play that passage 10 times or one time.
[1:39:34] Jon Lewis: Uh, I think I used to do that but I think the results are more negative because when you, when, what I find in my experience is that in the rehearsals, you know, you’re giving it all you got in rehearsals and, and it works well and everybody’s happy and I’m happy. But then the performance, you try to give it a little bit more and I think more and more times than not, you end up overplay and end up harming your performance. You know, you’re not doing the same thing, you know, it works, you’re doing something different and it’s like you’re over extending. And so I try to keep it pretty consistent. I, I don’t have too much of a problem with nerves because some, I heard somebody say it once. Uh they said, you know, I’ve made an ass out of myself in front of better people than you. So I figure if I make a mistake, it’s just a mistake, you know, um I try not to have that happen but uh the world is not going to come to an end. Um And, you know, there’s a definition that I don’t know where it came from I’d love to know who came up first with the, uh you know, the definition of success is when preparation meets opportunity. And every time we play, you know, we have that opportunity for success and you never know, you might be doing a church gig with some old guy. You know, it’s just, you’re like, oh, this guy stinks, but he could be the father of, you know, some incredible influential person player or something else. And again, if you keep that approach of being a good person and, and being fair and learning from everybody good or bad, uh I think it helps.
[1:41:17] John Snell: Now, in, in your studio work, uh you primarily use C trumpet.
[1:41:22] John Snell: Why is that?
[1:41:23] Jon Lewis: Well, you know, I, I’d like to sometime figure out exactly why. But I know that in terms of chronology, I’ve always been a b flat player up to when I started getting busy with the recording stuff. And um my, oh, I, I did, let me digress for a second in 19 94. I was just about to turn 35 which is the cut off from the army band. And I had an opportunity. A friend of mine called me Chuck Sipe who was in the army band at the time and he said there’s a position, it’s got your name all over it. You gotta come check this audit, looking for a specialist and a soloist. You write your own ticket and I was like, OK, so I went back to DC and uh to take this second time taking an audition for the army band. And Chuck had this Canadian brass b flat trumpet and I played this on it. Wow, this place is great. Can I use it tomorrow? So you’re gonna use a new, an odd horn? Yeah, this horn plays great. So I played the audition. They offered me the gig and I’m like, uh no, you know, I, I just got to start getting busy with the studio stuff and I thought if I walk away from this now, I’ll never forgive myself. Army band would have been a great decision, you know, being in DC would have been fantastic. But so anyway, the point of that is I had this Canadian brass B flat trumpet and that was my main ax. But the problem with was the valves, I could never count on them if I like if I had, you know, uh a lyrical phrase or something and I couldn’t count on it during takes and everything. And so I had c trumpet that the valves weren’t great. It was a Bach C trumpet. And so I use that, OK, I have to transpose down a step, but I used my, and, and the clarity of sound brilliance if you will, um that quickly got branded to me as you know, kind of like my icon. I think we all need to have some kind of an icon that, that people can use to separate are playing. Of course, Wayne has his Malcolm has his arturo has his, everybody has theirs. You, you can hear doc, you can hear Sergei. Well, hopefully people can recognize my icon of sound and that was with the C trumpet. And, uh, you know, it’s, it’s a larger bore. It’s got a clarity sound that I really like. And, and I’m good up to, I mean, I’ve gone up as high as S E flats, excuse me. And, uh, you know, so I’m less likely to go for Piccolo. I’ll, I’ll go up to the, you know, that range, uh, without going to Piccolo unless it’s like a zillion times. And, uh, it’s just really worked out well for me. I’ve had people like on Facebook posted a picture of us playing with Earth Wind and Fire at the Hollywood Bowl. And they’re saying is that a c trumpet that’s sacrilege and all I posted was like, it’s been ok, so far it’s been, you know, when I work with Gary Grant or Chuck Findley and those guys who are monsters and, you know, just idols of mine, um, they’re playing their, I’m playing my c, they’re cool with it, you know, it works. Yeah.
[1:44:32] John Snell: So, um, yeah, we talk a little bit. I mean, the guys in the section for the Star Wars are all using C trumpets, but if guys are using B flats or whatever doesn’t, as long as they sound good.
[1:44:45] Jon Lewis: Right. Right. I think, uh, it’s interesting, you can look. Dan goldwasser has the, uh, scoring session dot com. Uh, he posts tons of pictures. He’s a great guy and really Geo Washington, same thing on Facebook, you know, posts all these great pictures of sections you’ll see. You know, there’s been low, E flat, C and B flat all on the same cue. Um, you know, some guys, uh, prefer, you know, smaller horns and, and a, I’m just more comfortable on the C. My section is almost always by C and unless it goes down too low, but we’re all comfortable and familiar and it’s, it’s a great sound so well.
[1:45:26] John Snell: Did you ever get to play with the Tonight Show Band?
[1:45:29] Jon Lewis: I played on the Tonight Show, but not with the No, no, unfortunately, but uh I realized why I, I would be like, that’d be so out of place, you know, I mean, I love it. I love playing with those guys, but it’s, they’re so amazing at it. Like even to a Family Guy, uh when, when Chuck Findley and Gary Grant were in there, you know, if you’ve got a jazz phrase, you can’t have somebody better than Chuck Finley play a phrase. I mean, it’s just the most musical, glorious sound, you know, and uh and you know, changes happen and I love working with those guys. I, I will go back to that New York press conference journal when I was looking at all those all stars. It was probably, I don’t know, maybe 10 years ago and I recognized that after looking at that article for so long, I knew all of those guys, I was working with all of those guys and that realization was just shocking to me. You know, I can, I can call all, you know, Charlie Loper and Tommy Johnson, rest his soul, you know, all these amazing players that I had heard for so many, so many years, you know, I’m, I know them and I can consider them friends and, and I do their jobs with them. It’s really, it’s really pretty amazing, you know, uh Malcolm said to somebody one time. Uh I was saying uh so he says, what does it, what does it take to be in the studio business? And it could be wrong. Exactly. Paraphrasing. But it’s something like you have, you have more of a chance of becoming a space shuttle pilot than you do succeeding in the recording industry. And I think that he might be right. But uh Uan Racey when I first moved to town, he was one of the first people I met and he said he got introduced to me, he said great. There’s always room for another trumpet player and I completely agree with them. I think even today, there’s always room for other other players. You know, if they’re, if they play great and they’re good guys or gals and, and, uh, they’re good people and, and they really have command over their instrument, you know, I, I’ve been fortunately able to help, you know, a couple of people here and there and, uh, and I plan to do more because that’s, that’s the next generation, you know.
[1:47:47] John Snell: Yeah, there’s some young guys in town. Dan Rosenboom plays in your section a lot.
[1:47:51] Jon Lewis: He’s a great player, man. He’s a great guy. Uh, love having him there. Um, Dusty McKinney is another younger player. That’s, I mean, there are tons of them. I shouldn’t even a lot of names, you know, but I could, I could name 20 off the top of my head of guys that are going to own this town, you know. And uh um, but every time you get to play with any of these guys, the level of playing in Los Angeles is spectacular. You know, whether you say that the business has changed, whether one says the business has changed so much and it’s gotten worse. The players are still amazing when you sit down and you end up doing a rehearsal band or, or, um, any job. Amazing, you know, we’re all getting older. Um, but it’s still, it’s still the best place to be, in my opinion.
[1:48:37] John Snell: Well, Jon, thank you for spending your afternoon up here making the call up to Valencia. And uh, I mean, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you the last question, which is if you could leave our listeners with your best piece of advice, what would it be?
[1:48:51] Jon Lewis: Um I think maybe 22 pieces of advice for one, for students, the rules. OK. Well, for students and professionals and I think they’re both related. Um for students, you have to become your own teacher, you have to learn how to teach yourself and always present the best you can. So you have to do all your homework. And so I think and be a good person, I really think that’s absolutely the key and professionals, I think the same things apply. You have to stay on your game. You have to be still a good person and um you have to always put yourself at the best level you can and and put your job way ahead of anything else. So
[1:49:35] John Snell: well, wonderful advice, Jon. Thank you very much.
[1:49:38] Jon Lewis: You’re welcome. Thank you.
[1:49:41] John Snell: Well, there was so much content there in Jon’s interview, not only about the business side of playing and the practical side of playing. Uh but you could really get a sense of the care that Jon puts into everything he does. As a matter of fact, he wanted to come back and rerecord parts of his interview to make sure his tone was right. And that what he was saying was clear and because it meant meant a lot to him to make sure that his interview got across what he wanted to get across. So normally I thank my guest for giving up their afternoon or morning to come up here. And so Jon, thank you for taking two afternoons to come up here and give so much to the trumpet community through your interview. You can learn more about Jon on his website L A trumpet dot com. And it’s my understanding that it is close to being finished. Uh If not, there is definitely a placeholder page there with his contact information, but he is in the works of putting up a website that may be up now and you can learn more about Jon. You can also order his uh G R mouthpiece, the Jon Lewis signature mouthpiece. And uh he’s also working with Van Lar, as he mentioned on ac trumpet. He does play one that he had made a few years ago and they are in the works of doing a Jon Lewis model and if and when that does come out, we will have them here for sure and have more information on those. So L A trumpet dot com is Jon lewis’ website and feel free to check it out. So thanks again, Jon for the wonderful interview and sharing so many stories and playing advice with our listeners. And thank you for joining us, as I mentioned at the top of the podcast, we have the best trumpet playing audience in the world. You guys are so passionate about what you do and you can’t get enough of the trumpet and you go out and spread joy through your trumpet plane. So thank you again, if you would take 30 seconds to head on over to itunes and give us a five star rating. It helps us remain visible to the trumpet community on itunes and it means a lot to us. I check couple of times a month and love seeing the reviews and the comments you guys have and of course, all comments and suggestions are welcome. You can email me at John J O H N at Bob Reeves dot com. I love getting suggestions for future guests and com comments questions you want to have asked uh at at all of them. I mean, if it’s something we can do, we’ll do it. You know, I think this is just as much your podcast as it is what we do here. So keep the questions and comments coming, join us next month when our guest is Chris still second trumpet of the L A film. And until then let’s go out and make some music.